Theranostics 2012; 2(6):618-628. doi:10.7150/thno.4561

Research Paper

DiR-labeled Embryonic Stem Cells for Targeted Imaging of in vivo Gastric Cancer Cells

Jing Ruan, Hua Song, Chao Li, Chenchen Bao, Hualin Fu, Kan Wang, Jian Ni, Daxiang Cui

Department of Bio-Nano Science and Engineering, Key Laboratory for Thin Film and Microfabrication of Ministry of Education, Research Institute of Micro/Nano Science and Technology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai200240, P. R. China.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells have great potential in applications such as disease modeling, pharmacological screening and stem cell therapies. Up to date, there is no related report on the use of ES cells as tracking and contrast reagents of cancer cells in vivo. Herein we report that DiR-labeled murine ES cells can recognize and target gastric cancer cells in vivo. DiR-labeled murine ES (mES) cells (5×106) were intravenously injected into gastric tumor-bearing mice. The biodistribution of DiR-labeled mES cells was monitored by IVIS imaging within 24 h. Major organs were harvested and analyzed by immunofluorescence staining and Western blotting. Chemotaxis assay was employed to investigate the chemotaxis of ES cells tracking cancer cells. Fluorescent imaging results showed that DiR-labeled mES cells targeted gastric cancer tissue in vivo as early as 10 min post-injection, reaching a peak at 2h post-injection. Immunofluorescence staining and Western blotting results showed gastric cancer tissues specifically expressed SSEA-1. In vitro migration tests confirmed that mES cells actively moved to test sites with different concentration of CXCL12 in a dose-dependent manner. In conclusion, DiR-labeled mES cells may be used for gastric cancer targeted imaging in vivo, and have great potential in applications such as identifying and imaging of early gastric cancer in near future.

Keywords: murine embryonic stem cells, gastric cancer cells, target imaging, migration, chemotaxis.

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How to cite this article:
Ruan J, Song H, Li C, Bao C, Fu H, Wang K, Ni J, Cui D. DiR-labeled Embryonic Stem Cells for Targeted Imaging of in vivo Gastric Cancer Cells. Theranostics 2012; 2(6):618-628. doi:10.7150/thno.4561. Available from